I've been knitting away at my Little Minx socks all week and thought it was about time to show you an update. The last time I mentioned these, I was unhappy with my choice of yarn and decided to use more subtle colour tones in the Almond zauberball. And I am so happy with the difference! The more solid bands of colour really let the twisted stitches show off don't you think?
You can see how the zauberball colour gradations are beginning to move across the sock surface as we get to the heel. I think this will still have a lot of tonal contrast going on overall - hopefully it won't have too definite blocks of colour.
This pattern is a toe-up , short row heel sock design with good links to tutorials if you need some visual help. This one is a simple W&T heel (wrap and turn) and all went nice and smoothly. This yarn is a bit splitty, especially picking up all the wraps so I tried hard to get a clean finish. Unfortunately, by the time I had finished knitting the heel insert, the colourway had changed significantly from reds to a more dominant brown shade. You can see the sharp line on the patterned section a few rows from the top. Sigh! After all the smooth subtle shading, it just seemed too obvious and very annoying.
I went away and tried to live with it for a bit but to no avail. So I decided to rip it back and try out an idea I had from experiencing this problem before. If I knitted an Afterthought heel, the tones in the yarn wouldn't be disrupted and I would have a lovely subtle sock again.
The afterthought heel is basically a knitted tube with only the toe shaped as you go. After you finish the sock, you add the heel section. You can do this two ways: cut a row of knitting on the st stitch side and pick up the stitches top and bottom of that cut row on two dpns/circular needles (favoured by Elizabeth Zimmermann), or you can add a row of waste yarn as you are knitting the tube, just where you want the heel to be placed, then after you finish the sock, unpick the waste yarn and place top stitches on one needle and the bottom stitches on another and decrease just like a toe and graft the ends together. It's quite hard to explain without how-to visuals and I found links to both versions if you want to try:
I'm playing it cautious and avoiding cutting for now:-) As you can see, I have used some ochre waste yarn on the back of my sock. What is also really good about this technique is that if the heel happens to wear out, you can just unravel it back to the tube and reknit the heel with fresh yarn - cool, huh?
So progress so far? I have zoomed on from the afterthought line and have knitted about another inch or two since I took this picture. Hopefully with a few hours of knitting tonight, I will get this sock finished and the second one up and running. Oh, the reason the sock is folded in half is that as a rule of thumb without trying the sock on, the leg height is usually the same as the length of the sole. Once I get near the end, I try it on and see if I like the height and either start the rib or knit a bit more to suit:-)
So hopefully I shall be able to show you at least one finished sock soon:-) And if you fancy knitting this pattern up yourself, Karen has just released this on Ravelry here and even better, it's free! It's a lovely twisted rib pattern and a very good introduction to sock knitting and easy cabling. It doesn't take long to get into the pattern and before long, you have a complex and gorgeous sock emerging:-) Thanks Karen, for a very enjoyable knit!